We are now into Week 3 of Cycle 4 in the Genealogy Do-Over. Our goals this week are tracking and conducting research. This is my best and worst categories, my best because I love the research and as my Aunt says "I know how to dig" and my worst because I am not consistent with tracking my research but I am trying to improve that bad habit.
Tracking my research:
I have always documented what and where I have found information for my research but usually on a separate piece of paper. Then I would place this piece of paper in the information pile which eventually translates to lost forever in my folder of scrap paper. Not exactly a good method for tracking.
Since my first go round in the original Genealogy Do-Over I have tried to use electronic and/or digital formats for tracking my research and I have failed miserably! I have failed for a few reasons at this particular method of tracking my research. The first is that even though I open the log, I forget that it is there because it is not front and center where I can see it. The second reason is that I can't tell if all the information I want is actually in that tiny space, nor can I read it due to the small font. If I use a larger font so that I can actually read it, the spreadsheet then becomes difficult to handle because I am going back and forth looking for this or that. I have finally come to terms with the fact that for me at least, that "old school" is better for my brain and my eyesight!
So how does this genealogist keep track of her research? I mainly use three different documents that I have adapted to my needs from other trackers and logs that I have used over the years. My original version of a research planner was 2 pages front and back, see my original post for Genealogy Do-Over Original Cycle, Week 3. I also used a separate research planner. However, now I have combined the two and it is down to one page document. However, when printing them out in bulk I add additional lines to the back side of the page. Below is the current research planner/tracker that I use. If you like my research tracker/planner you can get a copy here Dawn's Genealogy Research Tracker/Planner Version 2.
I also use a document log. Using this log allows me to keep track of what documents I have and which ones I need. In my original version this document was 2 pages long with information on both the front and back of each page. I have made some revisions and it is now 1 page with information on the front and back. Not all of the categories listed will apply to everyone you are researching. If you like my document log you can get a copy here Dawn's Genealogy Document Log Version 2 . I keep both of these documents on my desk so that they are easy to find and get my hands on.
Front side of my document log
Back side of my document log.
My process for conducting research has changed a lot over the years especially now with more records being added on a daily basis to websites like Ancestry and FamilySearch. The picture below is a "boiled down" version of the steps I take when conducting research. I wish I could put it in some fancy, colorful chart but that is not something I know how to do right now. I got so frustrated trying to make a chart using Google Documents that it went straight to the trash can! However, if you would like to review my detailed version of the process please click here How I Conduct My Genealogical Research.
My "boiled down" research methods.
I don't know about you but I get side tracked easily when I find Bright Shiny Objects (BSO's). I generally fall way down into the rabbit hole so to help keep me on track with my research I made a Bright Shiny Object List. With the list I put the date, who and where then when I am ready I can go back and investigate the BSO. I then add notes, how and/or why it is or is not relevant and my conclusions. You will find it here Bright Shiny Object List.
There is one final document I use when I am conducting research. It is a source summary sheet. By using a source summary sheet I can keep track by person and/or surname. I also use it as a backup for sources listed in my research tracker/planner. The one I prefer is from Ancestry, here is the link to that Ancestry's Source Summary Sheet. Ancestry also has other charts and forms that may be of interest and you can find them here Ancestry's Blank & Downloadable Charts. Family Tree Magazine also has a good list of blank & downloadable forms too. You can find those here Family Tree Free Forms.
Charts and Forms, Free Downloadable Forms, web, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/download/charts : 17 October 2015)
Free Genealogy Forms, Genealogy Research Tool Kit, web, FamilyTree Magazine
(http://www.familytreemagazine.com/articlelist/research-toolkit : 17 October 2015).